For people suffering from Orthostatic Intolerance, Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia, Mast Cell Activtation or EDS. Follow me as I document my struggle towards better health.

"Spaceman's Disease" way cooler name than POTS

There are a myriad of centers investigating orthostatic intolerance and its various flavors (see previous post) but one area of research is particularly cool - spaceflight and its effect on the autonomic nervous system.

Dr. Robertson and his gang at the Vanderbilt Center is one team that has done extensive investigations into the cause of orthostatic intolerance in astronauts post-spaceflight.  Their findings have shown that OI can be caused by elevated levels of neurotransmitters, particularly norepinephrine which cause the heart rate to go up and blood vessels to constrict at "innapropriate" times causing a reduction of blood flow to the brain.   Reduced blood volume, such as what astronauts experience during spaceflight, can increase the level of neurotransmitters in the body because low blood volume makes the sympathetic nerves release more norepinephrine.

low blood volume = increase neurotransmitters = increase HR and decrease cerebral blood flow = orthostatic intolerance

While the gang at the Vanderbilt Center are now hunting down the causes of orthostatic intolerance in gravity huggers like us, Dr. B. Levine and his team in Texas are working on treatments which train the body's systems to better compensate for the effect of orthostatic intolerance.  Dr. Levine was (is?) the Director of the Cardiovascular Alterations Team at the National Space Biomedical Research Institute.  In 2007, he performed a bed-rest study (perfect for some first year college students like my son) to replicate the effects of weightlessness on the body.  During the five week snooze-fest, Dr. Levine had some of the research subjects perform an exercise routine designed to maintain "cardiac size and function" and prevent deconditioning during bed rest.  

According to Dr. Levine the results were "satisfying".  That study was the precursor to Dr. Levine's POTS Treatment Protocol yours truly is benefiting from today.

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